The New Brutalists: Not So Brutal 


The New Brutalists
Parallel Art Space

Don't expect to find works that might be all-too-readily viewed as rough-cut, rough-edged or rough-hewn upon visiting this group show at Parallel Art Space (through Nov 18). Expect, rather, a necessarily quite small yet rather massively handsome exhibition—and a collective list of materials that might deeply furrow your face.

Referencing not brutality per se but rather Brutalism, a mid-20th-century architectural trend that fostered structural legibility through self-revelatory implements and layouts—and seeking to create new meta-disciplinary associations therewith that transcend once-touted commonalities with Art Brut and Arte Povera—the curators at Parallel have brought together pieces by four artists whose process-heavy practices are themselves processed before yielding eventual products, whose methodologies disclose underlying forms while obscuring traces of manually generative modes.

Samuel T. Adams's paintings, for instance, are at once additive, subtractive and curiously perfusive, results of so many pressings-upon, pushings through and sandings-away that expose not canvas stretchers but skewed recordings thereof, like X-ray-machine glimpses of geometric abstractions passing through security. Conveying rolling sands and aerial views of mountains, Frank Zadlo’s The Desert and The Highlands are screen-printed on cement, a material both intrinsically relatable to their subjects and technologically quite other. Leah Raintree's 1:1, meanwhile, tapping into a different and politically pertinent earthly resource, is an alluring accumulation of sundered shale stone adhered to paper, a lunar-toned pockmarked work that somehow cross-seminatingly informs her abrasively stardust-like gelatin prints also on display.

The show's most brow-raising and face-scrunching material, though, resides somewhere within Guy Nelson's Un(done)gulate, a strangely lumpen gobbet-heap on the floor that reads like a hindmilk-fed bloat of quasi-organica freakishly hatched from Zadlo's Egg lying about nearby. The primary materials of this object's construction are fiberglass and mixed polymers, per the checklist, yet burrowed in their midst is also, to wit, an antelope scrotum. More cremasteric than creamy, evidently. Coupled with the oviform sculpture placed interactively at its base, at any rate—and in the center of the gallery’s space, no less—Un(done)gulate might also almost blatantly imply newer practitioners of brutalisms to come. Different stones for different processings, and so on.

You can follow Paul D'Agostino on Twitter @postuccio

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